There’s some debate over the validity of the ICC’s team rankings, but the Proteas truly could be proud of their six-run victory over Pakistan in the first T20 at Newlands on Friday night.
For the best part of 18 months now the visitors have been head and shoulders above the rest in the shortest form of the game internationally.
Mickey Arthur’s men showed that class in glimpses yet found themselves running into a home side that wanted to show they’re better than fifth in the world.
Safe in the knowledge that they had 193 to defend, the highest international T20 score at the ground, South Africa’s reasonably inexperienced attack didn’t always bowl particularly well.
They weren’t bad, but probably tried too hard to employ various variations when a lovely batting surface demanded simplicity.
Instead, the hero in the field was the much maligned David Miller.
Under pressure with the bat due to a lack of runs, he showed his worth with some magnificent fielding.
Not only did he pouch four catches – one of them the key wicket of veteran opposition skipper Shoaib Malik (49) – but arguably effected the key moment of the game.
Babar Azam had looked familiarly threatening on 38 before he took on Miller, who responded with a brilliant underarm direct hit.
Later, he hit the stumps again from midwicket after Beuran Hendricks fluffed an easy catch and Pakistan tried to cash in on the ensuing chaos.
Andile Phehlukwayo did, however, show his newfound maturity with a good spell of 1/27 from his four overs.
Earlier, Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis dominated the Proteas’ charge to 192/6.
The duo shared a superb stand of 131 for the second wicket.
Hendricks was elegant and smooth in making his 74 off just 41, while his captain rode his luck and eventually thumped deliveries to literally all parts as he ended with 78 off 45.
Pakistan’s attack then showed its potency in limiting the hosts to 35 runs, taking 5 wickets in the process.